Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PopMatters :: Super Black

Super Black
By Adilifu Nama
Buy It Now
The People Could Fly: 'Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes'
By Greg Carpenter 1 November 2011

In 1979, Adam West and Burt Ward donned their capes and masks and returned to television as Batman and Robin in a two-part special called Legends of the Superheroes. The special included many additional DC heroes including Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkman. The second episode featured a Dean Martin-style celebrity roast of DC’s very own “Rat Pack”.

The heroes were seated behind small podiums bearing their own logos, and a tuxedo-clad Ed McMahon served as emcee. (I wish I were making this up.) In one segment, McMahon noted that the superhero community did not include many “minorities”, but perhaps that was about to change. And with that, he introduced “Ghetto Man”.

In the segment, “Ghetto Man” turns out to be an African-American character dressed in a jeweled vest and fringe pants, looking like a lost extra who accidentally wandered over from the set of Starsky and Hutch. Before strutting to the center stage, Ghetto Man and West’s Batman actually give each other “five” and do the “bump”.

Ghetto Man then delivers a stand up routine, making jokes about whether the NAACP would acknowledge Green Lantern as “colored”. Hawkman laughs so hard he looks like he’s trying to keep milk from squirting out of his beak.

The whole thing is nothing short of mortifying.

Read more at popmatters.com »

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